An ancient Swedish handicraft, pp. 365-368 ff.
An Ancient Swedish Handicraft N last month's issue of The Craftsman there was illustrated a feminine art-industry of the sadly circumstanced Russian peasantry. The illustration was an example of the so-called "Muscovite embroidery." A woman of the suffering class had wrought into a homespun fabric, with the irony of bright-colored stitches, the story of want and of the grief arising from it. The desire for a larger, more abundant life-for food, rest, happiness-was compressed into an inscription of the deepest pathos: "Let us sing and dance and forget for a while how bit- terly we live." We have now to deal with a fireside industry of another Northern race: this time, a sturdy and contented people, enjoying equally labor and recreation; if we may judge by the indications set in the work with the same clearness as in the Russian handicraft. The industry at present illustrated represents the oldest human labor, with the exception of husbandry, in relation to which it occupies the position of the feminine to the masculine element. The spade and the distaff have ever been the closest companions. Spinning and weaving are attributed even to the gods and heroes, and all the glamor of romance surrounds one of the most necessary and usual employments. In the revival of hand labor which is in actual progress, inter- est has naturally turned to primitive ways of producing textiles, with the result that in numerous regions of France, England, Ireland and the United States, long disused wheels and looms have renewed their activity: thereby restoring old-time thrift, and prom- ising future prosperity to these same communities. In Sweden, with whose peasant industries we are now concerned, the revival of the feminine handicrafts,-especially the production of textile fabrics-has been due to the efforts of a society known as the Handarbetets Viinner. By this means, the art-weaving of the Swedish peasants, which is an inheritance from pagan times, has been saved from the danger of extinction, which it incurred through the introduction of machinery. The Swedish peasants, accord- in to history, the testimony of travelers, tradition, and the proof of the old tapestries themselves, have always taken great pride in decorating the walls and furniture of their houses with the 365
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